Shropshire Star

Telford Tigers run out of steam – but still top play-off group

Head coach Tom Watkins admitted Telford Tigers just ran out of steam as they failed to back up one of their best victories of the season.


The Tigers won 6-3 at Milton Keynes Lightning on Saturday night to make it three wins from three in the play-offs.

But back on home ice against the same opposition 24 hours later, they slipped to a 4-1 defeat.

Watkins said: “It was a tough night after emptying the tanks on Saturday night and giving it the same again – the commitment and desire was first class all weekend.

“We killed a lot of penalties this weekend, which was excellent but it takes it out of you, physically and mentally.

“We were a little indisciplined at points and just let a little emotion get on top of us.

“We didn’t quite have enough offensively and when we didn’t convert on the five-minute power play we lost the opportunity to score first, which I think would have put a lot of pressure on them.

“We played very well through the third period and when we got that first goal we had a chance, but giving up a couple of goals against us so quickly was tough to come back from and I think fatigue was a factor.

“We have done a tremendous job already this post-season with three wins from four and need the fans support once again next weekend to help us over the line.”

The first period was fast, intense and saw both teams engage in a physical battle.

The officials let a lot of incidents go that would normally be called as a penalty, and with both teams cancelling each other out they went to the break goalless.

In the first minute of the second period, Milton Keynes found themselves a man down and facing a five-minute penalty kill.

James Griffin caught James Smith with a check to the head and was ejected from the game. Despite some pressure on Jordan Hedley in the Milton Keynes goal, Telford could not score on the extended power play – something that would prove costly.

The visitors opened the scoring when a defensive turnover led to Carter Hamill passing to the unmarked Corey McEwan, who tapped the puck into the wide open net.

Tigers lost their discipline and saw a procession of players heading to the penalty box.

Jaden Peca was called for a cross check and was followed by Fin Howells and then Deakan Fielder.

Tigers killed off the penalties, but were caught out just before the end of the period when Mack Stewart shot low past Brad Day to extend the visitors’ lead.

With 10 minutes of the game left, Telford halved the deficit.

A Rhodes Mitchell-King shot was saved by Hedley, but Jesse Sutton was on hand to turn the rebound into the net.

But, within a minute the visitors, were back ahead by two goals when Toms Rutkis backhanded a wrist shot past Day.

Milton Keynes sealed the game with a goal four minutes from the end when Liam Stewart deflected a shot in from close range.

Despite the defeat, Tigers are top of the Group B standings with two games left to play.

They face Swindon Wildcats home and away next weekend as they seek to secure their place at the NIHL Final Four in Coventry the following weekend.